European Human Rights Court Moves to Redress Romanian Pogrom
1 February 2006
On July 12, 2005, The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Romania violated multiple provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to provide justice in connection with a 1993 pogrom and its aftermath. The case involves the killing by a mob of three Romani men and the subsequent destruction of fourteen Romani houses in the village of Hadareni in Mures County, northwestern Romania, as well as the degrading circumstances in which the victims were forced to live after the event.
Following an altercation in which a non-Romani youth was killed, a mob of non-Romani villagers hunted down the alleged perpetrators and set fire to the house in which they were hiding. Two were brutally murdered when they tried to escape, and the third burned to death in the house. The mob, including members of the local police force, went on to destroy 14 additional houses of Romani families. The Romani families were thereafter forced to live in hen houses, pigsties, windowless cellars, in extremely cold and overcrowded conditions. These conditions lasted for several years and in some cases are still continuing. As a result, many applicants and their families fell ill. Diseases contracted by the victims included hepatitis, a heart condition (ultimately leading to fatal heart attack), diabetes, and meningitis.
The ERRC has been involved in the Hadareni case since its establishement in 1996. Jointly with domestic partners, including the Tirgu Mures-based Liga Pro Europa, the ERRC provided legal assistance to a number of the victims, and ultimately brought the claim before the European Court of Human Rights.
In the July 12 decision, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Article 6(1) (right to a fair hearing) on account of the length of the proceedings, Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken in conjunction with Articles 6(1) and 8. The Court ordered that seven persons be provided with damages totalling 238,000 Euro. Individual awards ranged from 11,000 to 95,000 Euro. Eighteen of the twenty-five applicants agreed to enter a friendly settlement with the Romanian government that was the subject of a separate judgment, issued on 4 July 2005. Under settlement mediated by the Court, the Romanian Government also agreed to provide a number of other ameliorative measures, as well as damages amounting to 262,000 Euro. The full text of the July 12 decision can be found at: http://www.errc.org.